Review Summary: A nostalgic goodbye to a band who traded their edgy image for a position in the mainstream rock market.
I identify with others who have reviewed this album; I was 15 when Awake came out, and, seemingly unlike others, I loved it. I've seen Skillet live 14 times. Yet, as soon as I heard Sick Of It for the first time, I dreaded this album. When I heard American Noise, I scoffed at the lyrics and whatever the hell made those keyboard sounds. Midi? Sampled? Who the hell knows, but it sounds horrific.
I listened to music coming out of the Christian market for the majority of my youth, and for the most part, still do. When Skillet first started touring on Awake, I saw them on a tour in which RED opened for them. From that moment, I was hooked on RED, too. The hard riffs, the cutting vocals intermingled with screams, it all enthralled me.
Then, earlier this year, RED unveiled Release the Panic, produced by Howard Benson. I was shocked at what I heard, and not in a good way. RED went from a hard-rock Christian band with killer riffs and appropriately-mixed symphonies to a band in which every song off the new record sounded radio-friendly. I hate radio-friendly. There was nothing special about the album; as other reviews state, power chord after power chord. It hurt. No solos, no riffs. No identifiable notes, just a wall of constant guitar parts bombarding me.
Now, it seems Skillet has gone back to Howard Benson, and we've obtained a similar result to what happened with RED. Skillet lost it on this record. It sounds like generic version of Awake, and I'm appalled.
Seemingly, in the past 4 years since Awake premiered my personal life has changed. I finished my first college degree, I'm about to finish my second, then on to the third degree. I listen to more Mozart and August Burns Red (Rescue & Restore on repeat for days), than I do anything else. I can't remember the last time I touched Awake. Similar to the others, I was hoping for Skillet to grow with me. Touring with the likes of Stone Sour during the period of 4 years that's elapsed between albums, I truly was hoping Skillet would be harder: edgier, more screams, more double bass.
Alas, Skillet seems to have become complacent with their position in the industry.
I was hoping to see Skillet headline killer tours with harder bands, creating a diverse mix of Christian and secular artists. I was hoping this album would break ground. Now, after four years of waiting, I'm handed a concept album of power ballads and recycled material from their previous album, coupled with a tour with Nickleback in the Fall.
Reviews from Billboard and other mainstream magazines and websites hail the new album as amazing. Yet, this is depressing for me. It seems that's what Skillet wanted when they produced this album: mainstream attention. Radio-friendly rock with no discernible differences between artists on the radio or songs on the album. They played it safe and it sounds like it.
And thus, my 14-show, 5-year romance with Skillet ended.